JOHN MENADUE. The crazed Brendan Tarrant did not operate in a vacuum. (See Postscript)

We now see the dreadful consequences in Christchurch of Islamophobia. There has been widespread hate speech against Muslims promoted not just by white extremist groups but also by politicians and the media.  

Attacking people who are different, outsiders and particularly if they are Muslims is often seen as good politics. We have seen a lot of it recently. Political leaders from Donald Trump to Scott Morrison have used anti-Muslim rhetoric as a political tactic.

The world leader in Muslim hate speech has been Donald Trump, supported by Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News which is really the public relations arm for the hatred spewing out from the White House.

Throughout the last Presidential campaign Donald Trump made a feature of demonising Muslims as a means to attract white ‘Christian’ working class voters. He continued after he became president. One of his first steps as President was to attempt to ban admission of citizens from seven majority Muslim countries. It was known as the ‘Muslim ban’. He floated the idea of a ‘Muslim registry’. He said that ‘Islam hates us’ and referred to ‘people coming out of mosques with hatred and death in their eyes and on their minds’.

Steve Bannon, former adviser to Trump, said that Islam was not a religion of peace but of submission and that the US could become an Islamic state of America. Senior Republican senator Ted Cruz called on ‘law enforcement to patrol and secure Muslim neighbourhoods.’ Former governor Mike Huckabee described Muslims in the Middle East coming out of mosques ‘like uncorked animals’.

Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News which influences his newspapers in Australia, has given a megaphone in the US to Islamophobia. The February 2014 issue of the International Communications Gazette said ‘One study that analysed Fox News viewers anti-Muslim feeling reported for example, that 60% of Republicans who most trusted Fox News also believed that Muslims were attempting to establish Sharia law in the US.’

Since that report in 2014 Fox News in association with Donald Trump has stepped up the anti-Muslim rhetoric. As a colony of US media and Fox News in particular, Australian media has ceaselessly carried on the anti-Muslim rhetoric.

The Murdoch tabloids in Australia have consistently encouraged bigotry and hostility towards Muslims.

Our media has an exaggerated focus on Islamic terrorism. It seizes every opportunity to highlight this issue. Politicians and the media feed one another in exaggerating the threat. Only a handful of Australians have been killed in Australia as a result of Islamic terrorism in the last decade. Yet at least one woman a week dies and thousands are injured physically and mentally as a result of domestic violence. This only receives spasmodic media interest, but if there is even a minor story about Islamic terrorism it is sure to lead the media bulletin.

The promotion of fear of boat arrivals is in part a projection of fear of Muslims as many of the asylum seekers are Muslim. Attacks on asylum seekers coming by boat is in  fact part code for promoting fear of Muslims.

Just imagine how different the attitude of Messrs Abbott, Morrison and Dutton would be if boat arrivals were white  South African farmers .

Whilst our politicians and the media have focussed on Islamic terrorism in Australia, I have yet to read a serious analysis of WHY. If we seriously ask the question WHY there have been some Islam terrorists in Australian it would open up the whole issue of how Australia’s participation in the invasion of Muslim countries and the resulting death, division and upending of millions of lives has brought some Islamic terrorism to our country. So our media and politicians focus on the few facts about Islamic terrorism in Australia and seldom ask the relevant question WHY. The fact is that a few Islamic terrorists have been active in Australia because Australian troops have invaded Islamic countries and the sooner we get out the better for everyone. But the media doesn’t want to ask the hard question WHY.

Tony Abbott has contended that that ‘Islamophobia has not killed anyone’. That was what he told the Huffington Post on the 5th June, 2017. He was wrong then and he is even more wrong as a result of the Christchurch massacre.

Many of our political leaders have urged Muslim leaders to get their young radicals under control. But I can’t recall any of them telling church leaders in Australia to get some of their clerics under control who have been involved extensively in child abuse.

In the reporting of the Christchurch massacre, our media refers to a ‘white terrorist’. Just imagine the political field day we would have had if Tarrant had been an Islamic terrorist.

Recently One Nation proposed a motion in Parliament endorsing the chant ‘It’s OK to be white’. It was initially supported by the Coalition

For years in Australia the vilification and hate speech against Muslims has gone largely unchecked. That speech has become normalised and acceptable. We see the terrible consequences in Christchurch.

Scott Morrison has been to the fore in response to the Christchurch massacre. But he has an unfortunate record in beating the anti-Muslim drum. On February 2011, Lenore Taylor, the National Affairs Correspondent of the SMH exposed Scott Morrison’s behind-closed-door urging of anti-Muslim rhetoric. Lenore Taylor reported

The Opposition Immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the Shadow Cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate. Mr Morrison’s suggestion was made at a meeting in December at which shadow ministers were asked to bring three ideas or issues on which the Coalition should concentrate its political attack during the parliamentary term. … Sources say that Mr Morrison told the Shadow Cabinet meeting on December 1 at the Ryde Civic Centre that the Coalition should ramp up its questioning of “multiculturalism” and appeal to deeper concerns about Muslim Immigration and “inability to integrate”. 

Postscript.  Following Waleed Aly’s reference on Channel 10 several days ago about what was said at the shadow cabinet meeting in 2010 , the PM’s office said  that the comment on Channel 10 included ‘discredited information’ and referred to ‘defamation’. The New Daily today pointed out that  at the time Julia Gillard  called on Scott Morrison to be sacked for his comments.. The New Daily added ‘Mr Morrison failed to explicitly deny the reports at the time. The New Daily report can be found at https://thenewdaily.com.au/news/national/2019/03/18/morrison-waleed-aly-muslim/

It is hard to reconcile this beating of the anti-Muslim drum in 2011 by Scott Morrison with his sympathy with what happened in Christchurch last week.

American Indians call this ‘speaking with a forked tongue’.

There is a growing and dangerous Islamophobia and hate speech which has developed in Australia and around the world. There is too much grubby politics involved.

Brendan Tarrant did not act in a vacuum.

See also:
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/mar/16/a-letter-to-our-leaders-as-australian-muslims-we-live-in-fear-please-remember-our-pain?CMP=share_btn_link

http://theconversation.com/christchurch-attacks-are-a-stark-warning-of-toxic-political-environment-that-allows-hate-to-flourish-11366

A further PS from Lenore Taylor on 16 March 2019 ..’As the author of the report in question I can add that the sources(multiple) have always stuck by what they told me-and subsequently told several other journalists.’

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John Menadue is the publisher of Pearls & Irritations. He has had a distinguished career both in the private sector and in the Public Service.

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